There is something about doing readings in an art gallery - the space feels sacred for sure. The The Darling Muse Gallery in a
three story house along Jalan Bukit Pantai in Bangsar even has a name which honours the creative process.
This was the first in a series of fortnightly readings organised by my friend Bernice Chauly and sponsored by La Bodega. We had a good crowd of friends and supporters turn up - I was really surprised at how many of the folks I'd mass e-mailed turned up - Noraishah, Caving Liz (just back from Phucket), Diana Cooper, Zarin, and Leah came to cheer me on and I really appreciated having them around.
I was first up. Read a couple of extracts from the second story I'd had published; "Just Like Steven Spielberg". Had never read it aloud before and it is a bit tricky because the protagonist speaks with a Malaysian Chinese accent. (Can hear it in my head, but I'm no actress.) But managed okay, and it was so nice to hear and see the audience react to it. Got laughs in the right places, so felt really good. Then read a little bit from a story "in progress" (hate to tell you just how long it's been "in progress"!), which is ... as far as things are classifiable ... a lesbian love story. Still have some way to go in getting it down to the page but must put in the effort now to get it finished ... have promised it to Pang for the book of gay short stories he is editing.
Jerome Kugan had a sheaf of poems and as ever, his images delight and his word choice is playful and teasing; a writer I'd never heard of before, I Rivers, mumbled his way in audibly through something; followed by Zedeck (only 18 and precociously talented); Pang, who read a short and very graffic piece about a gay encounter (he said he expected people to walk out, as they had when he read it in the bar at the Litfest, but no-one did); Bernice whom I'm happy to see is continuing to work on herfamily memoirs 14 Leech Street - very strong material; and finally Kam Raslan read an extract (about the seduction of a Swiss dairy maid in a barn! What fun!) from a new novel he's working on.
Before, after and during the break we ate delicious pizza and tortilla, drank wine, and laughed and flirted and caught up on gossip ... and if we behaved like real arty-farties then so what? It was so good to be with so many friends.
Went from there up the road to Actor's Studio to see a play called Hannah and Hannah as a guest of the British Council who were sponsoring the production. Here's the blurb:
HANNAH AND HANNA
Hannah, 16, from Margate, wants to know why the Kosovans have taken over her town and her name. Hanna, 16, from Kosovo, wants a safe place to live and a friend. Pop-mad Hannah likes to sing karaoke, especially when it's Britney Spears. What she doesn't like is that Kosovitch Hanna stealing her thunder on her favourite number. What Hannah doesn't know is that she and Hanna have more in common than the name. And, against all odds, will become friends.
Date: 8, 11-15 January 2005 @ 8.30pm, 9 January 2005 @ 3 pm
Price: RM 32/42 (Adults) & RM 17/22 (Students, Snr Cit.)
The play was convincingly acted, beautifully staged and choreographed ... a very moving account of a friendship which transcends racial divisions and narrow prejudices.
And of course, for me the evening was great because, once again there were lots of friends to meet up with, and new friends to make. Am a total people junkie!
Am feeling recharged and very much better now, especially as I am at last getting things moving re. the creative writing course I plan to teach. I've been checking out venues, talking to organisations who might want to collaborate on it. More news very soon.
The event was just like another party too - so many of my friends were there - and there was wine and nibbles and great conversation with plenty of new friends to make, in the foyer afterwards.